Tuesday, October 4, 2016

European Coastal Airlines ceases operations


Europe's only scheduled seaplane service, Croatia’s European Coastal Airlines (ECA), has suspended all operations citing administrative issues, just over two years following its launch. In a statement, the carrier said it will no longer do business in Croatia until the operational environment becomes “trustworthy”. In August, the carrier was grounded for over two weeks and its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) briefly revoked by the country's regulator following an audit into its safety practices and maintenance procedures. ”ECA will no longer invest any funds into the Croatian seaplane project until the administrational situation has been resolved, giving us the opportunity to operate in a safe and trustworthy marketplace”, the company said. It added, “The shareholders of European Coastal Airlines do not see any alternative than to suspend operations for the time being. This comes at a high cost of almost every operational job within our company, however, we have been left with no other choice to protect the investments implemented until today”.

As a result of its decision, the carrier, which employs 146 people, will dismiss 130 of them by the end of the month. ECA notes that it has been “continuously disturbed” since its temporary grounding in August, despite reaching out to the Croatian government and other relevant authorities to avoid further administrative issues. “Sadly, since August 12, 2016, flight operations of this revolutionary infrastructure project have been continuously disturbed. Part of our fleet has been grounded for no justifiable reason”. The company has invested some 22 million euros in infrastructure development in Croatia, including the construction of eleven seaports. "It comes with the greatest regret to inform the public about these developments, nevertheless we feel the necessity to make everyone understand the situation we are in", ECA said.

Following a fourteen-year battle with bureaucracy, the German-backed ECA launched operations in 2014, connecting major cities and islands along the Croatian coast. This year it commenced its first international flights, linking the Croatian and Italian coasts, with plans to introduce operations to Montenegro in the future. The carrier boasted a fleet of four hydroplanes, two of which have the ability to land both on water and paved runways. Its main base was in Split and it maintained services to Rijeka, Zadar and Mali Lošinj airports, as well as water terminals across the country’s coastline.

114 comments:

  1. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Croatia Airlines could buy them out and offer seaplane operations? They could have based two of ECA’s aircraft that can land on paved runways at ZAG and offered a special service for passengers heading to the islands. I think it could have worked.

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    1. Now that would be a one of a kind service offered by a national airline. Although keeping in mind Croatia Airlines' finances I doubt they would ever even consider such a concept.

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    2. Yes, that would be interesting, connecting the islands, but I also doubt this CEO has any vision.

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    3. For example during the summer they could offer tickets between Zagreb and some island for a small additional cost for people flying say LHR-ZAG. That way your product becomes more appealing than BA and soon Monarch and you boost tourism as well.

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    4. True and they already have all the infrastructure in place so no money would have to be invested there.

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    5. While it is a nice idea, these sea planes are very expensive to operate and maintain and would be a unnecessary burden for OU.

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    6. Why would a Twin Otter cost more to operate then their Q400 or ASL's ATRS???
      I think the idea of a feeder ops supplementing mainline OU would've been fantastic!

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  2. What a shame! Especially for all the islanders that really profited from this service. An airport like Mali Losinj with so little traffic will also be affected by this a lot

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  3. Something tells me they ended flights because of financial issues and not the "business environment".

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    1. Well financial issues caused by the fact that they were grounded for over two weeks during peak season and their apparent poor safety practices examined by the media during the summer probably didn’t help.

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  4. It's a shame, love the pic, btw!

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  5. My Croatian friend living in Spain was very happy to hear the news when they launched the services to the islands and was going to use them next summer. This is really sad as it was a unique and one of a kind service in the continent.
    Unfortunately, the economic crisis doesn't seem to have passed completely.

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  6. At the end of the day they are the only ones to blame. Their safety record was poor and that’s why part of their fleet is still grounded.

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    1. Safety record was poor ??? Did I miss something ??? Did they have a crash, engine fire, piece of a plane come off in flight, etc. Did someone die ???

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    2. Click the ECA tag at the end of the article and you can find news related to them. And yes they had a crash and the pilot was killed.

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  7. I was fearing this would be the outcome when they launched. I know this airline was under the radar for most but people don't really get how important it was for the islands. Shame.

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  8. Feel sorry for the German guy who burned so much money into this project.

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    1. And for the 130 people who just lost their jobs!

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    2. The original German guy who intended to start the company died many years ago (pre 2009) in a car accident. This is one of the main reasons why it took well over 10 years to start the company. It was not all Croatia red tape. The ownership of the estate was being challenged in a German court. This is what I was told when I had a meeting with them in Zagreb back in 2009 and even than they were in a sense of limbo and had no idea when they would start operations.

      Funny how they kept they office open in Zagreb all that time with a handful of employers.

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  9. They had become extremely unreliable over the past few months even before they were temporarily grounded.

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    1. and not cheap at all, cheapest tickets were selling at 500kn one way.

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  10. I can imagine what kind of bureaucracy they had to work through in order to set up this airline so it is sad to see them go. Could someone else step in?

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  11. Sad to here :( they were really quite a unique airline in the skies.

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  12. Typical Balkan mentality that's killing businesses

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  13. Too bad its over for them.

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  14. So another Croatian airline goes bust... What's going on?

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    1. And what other Croatian airlines "went bust"?

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    2. Dubrovnik Airline, Sea Air, Air Croatia...

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    3. Oh and Air Adriatic too.

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    4. You cannot seriously include Sea Air and Air Croatia on that list.

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    5. Dubrovnik Airlines did not go bust.

      The others were new start ups with not enough money to invest when starting ops and to cover losses in first let's say 2 years!

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    6. How do you mean Dubrovnik Airlines did not go bust?

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    7. Dubrovnik Airlines did go bust. The airline was loss making since 2009 and ceased all operations In October 2013 after defaulting on its debts and it declared bankruptcy.

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    8. What is happening with Limitless Airways?

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    9. They have two A320s and fly charters. They were interested in starting domestic flights last year but seem to have given up on the idea.

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    10. Dubrovnik Airlines did no bust.

      They were left without possibility to operate after the owner decided to leave the airline business in general. Hence they had to close as no cash for operating was available as they never had money on their own, the owner who set up the airline did. But that does not equel "going bust" in its proper sense.

      Same if JU pulls out of Aviolet today (given that Aviolet was an airline with AOC on its own and I guess that JU has 100% owenership), then Aviolet would most likely cease operations tomorrow as they suddenly have no financial base anymore.

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    11. Ti nisi cuo za banke, biznis plan i sl?

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  15. They will just move to Greece! The people there need jobs too.

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    Replies
    1. Because the financial situation and administration there is much better than in Croatia :D

      On a serious note, does Greece have sea plane flights at the moment?

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  16. The question is where is the truth. Maybe, it seems that some other player is interesting for this service. I can`t believe that problem with safety could not be resolved from August.

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    1. Could be but if there was another interested party I would have thought they would have set up the airline by now.

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    2. Apparently one of the main Croatian Civil Aviation Authority requirement was for ECA to have every aircraft checked and overhauled if needed in a specialied center in Zurich so I can't see how they could have resolved it by now. I think ECA have been trying to convince the CCAA that this isn't necessary because of the costs involved but it doesn't look like the CCAA want the planes thoroughly checked.

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  17. While we are on the topic of Croatian carriers, whatever happened to the delivery of Trade Air A320? Wasn't it supposed to come in April?

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    1. They did take delivery of the plane in April but it is stored in Zagreb and has been inactive since it arrived.

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    2. That's odd :/ Thanks for the info.

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    3. I heard a news somewhere that it will start to fly this month

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  18. Kinda unbelievable. They have proved on many occasions that they had deep pockets, invested hell of a lot of money with small income during the first few years of operation. To give up now does really not look like they can't afford to operate anymore but that they were actively sabotaged by authorities and ministries thus seeing no positive long term development perspective/forecast. Hidden OU protectionism I'd assume, but sure that cannot be proven. What a shame for Croatia, the islanders and the tourists.

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    1. Well said. I agree.

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    2. OU protectionism?????

      OU does not fly to those islands. So, OU can only benefit of few passengers which transfer in SPU, ZAD, PUY, RJK and DBV to OU flights.

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    3. Yeah I also fail to see how Croatia Airlines could have felt threatened by them.

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    4. If they were protecting anyone it would be Jadrolinija but with the growth of tourism I can't see how anyone would not see the benefits of this type of company in the region.
      I'm not ruling out the possibility of corruption being involved here but when this story first came out it did not seem unique to me from my experiences in general aviation in Australia and in the interest of safety I'm on the regulators side here.

      In saying that I really liked the idea and what the ECA were doing and hope they can somehow recover from this!

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    5. Whatever the reason was for being "continously disturbed" or "sabotaged" by authorities or may it be corruption (or not taking part in corruption?) etc., I remain confident that- with cooperation and good will- it would have been possible to find a solution that allows ECA to operate in an environment that is not hostile to them or their business model.

      As said, they did have deeper pockets than other start-ups and they had a clear business plan and vision and found a market niche which they managed to develop quite nicely till July.

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    6. Btw, regarding threat to OU:

      E.g., they were operating SPU-PUY (via LSZ) and SPU-DBV so that is in competition to Trade Air operating domestic routes on behald of OU.

      Additionally, they were a growing private business and also last summer operated flights into Zagreb.

      Still not much of competition, I agree, but any other Croatian private carrier with scheduled services seems to be not very welcome.

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    7. So, how is SPU-LSZ-PUY competition to OU?

      And Split-Dubrovnik is not also competition to Trade Air as Trade Air has PSO for that route and they don't care if they have 19 or non passengers on board. They will get same amount of money on that flight from country anyway.

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  19. why i am not surprised with outcome??? after all, mind notorious Croatian bureaucracy, but those ECA guys were not able to organize a decent panic on sinking ship.

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  20. In my opinion Trade Air is the only other serious carrier in Croatia. With some investment (and if they had that sort of strategy) they could really challenge Croatia Airlines on a number of routes. But I think they are more oriented in cooperating with OU rather than competing with them.

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  21. I wonder if they will ever resume flights from Croatia or whether they will just move to another country.

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  22. They have suspended ticket sales. On their website it says how they will be back in 2017 but that doesn't seem to be the case now.

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  23. They still have a lot of people to refund from the period they didn't fly in August and they suspended many flights during September too since more than half of their flights were not operating.

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    Replies
    1. Those flights after mid-August could not operate therefore had to be cancelled as the CCAA grounded all of their planes but one

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  24. I used them last year and it was a great experience. Flights were also full.

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    1. Same here. Used them from Split to Losinj and back earlier this year. Full both times and it is a really great flight. Everyone should experience it.

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    2. Sad I never used them - they were not cheap but was always hoping for better prices - and then I would book... I am such a cheap bastard :)

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  25. OT: Today ASL operates 4 flights on behalf of Air Berlin within Germany (YU-ANJ) :)

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  26. The company was rotten from the inside. Simple as that.

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  27. I just don't get that they spent so much money into this simply to give up.

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  28. OT: Dubrovnik around 300 000 pax in September, +18%, just like Split! Congrats!

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    Replies
    1. Dubrovnik and Split really rock this year, next year will be even better!

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  29. AOC suspension was just top of iceberg. I wrote here several times that ECA does not have future:

    1. No system. Routes were illogical with no connections (some potential connections were missing for just 10 minutes), very bad timing during day (some flights very near than long pause), some of destinations did not have potentials and for sure were not priorities.

    2. They open routes and then suspend them in just few days. Sometimes they open and suspend and then again reopen and suspend routes and destinations several times in just one year.

    3. Reliability was disaster. They suspend flights, even routes, in short notice with lot of compensations and unsatisfied costumers.

    4. Planes were old, and much too expensive for commercial use.

    etc, etc...

    If they did business well they would not have chance to make this profitable. And their business was so far away from conducting it well!

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    1. Znao sam da ces da prdis neke stvari koje veze nemaju sa mozgom, nemas pojma o poslovanju hidroaviona.

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    2. Realistic overview of their ops. It's unfortunate though.

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    3. Anonymus 12.10, pa on za sebe kaze da nije ekspert ;-)

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    4. Purger, I agree with a couple of things you wrote. However, I am sure that connections were not their priority, they saw more potential in tourism related O&D where they can generate higher yields.
      Also, there are not really (known) options for brand new waterplanes, and I don't even mention their purchase price.

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    5. Anonymous 12:10
      Iskreno ne mogu kontrirati tako "jakom" argumentu koje ste iznjeli. Jednostavno nemam dovoljno dobrog odgovora na argument "prdis neke stvari koje veze nemaju sa mozgom". Hvala na tako "argumentiranoj raspravi", a odgovora nemam iz prostog razloga što su mene roditelji odgojili.

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    6. Anonymous 3:05
      It should be. Why on earth potential passenger could not fly from Jelsa to Ancona with one stop, or from Jelsa to Pula with 2 stops? Give potential passengers more choices and you will have more of them, won't you? One can not afford not to use all possibilities to attract passengers. And to fly with empty planes instead.

      Delete
  30. Purger, grest analysis on TangoSix.

    Let's wait for the news conference for JU's birthday around 26th of October. We are up for some good news :)

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Air Serbia's birthday is 17th June, not 26.10

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    4. Good news from Air Serbia will be small news. Sabresonic will be ready soon with new options. Not much excitement.

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    5. Anonymous 12:31
      Thank you.

      INN-NS:
      Marko, mislim da si puno premlad da si dozvoljavas ovakve komentare o ozbiljnim clancima i ozbiljnim analizama. Odraste ces i naucit ces, a do tada malo vise samokontrole. Stoga se necu ni upustati u raspravu sa tobom o tome koliko puta sam i zasto naveo premijera Vucica u clanku. Jednostavno ja o tome ne mogu raspravljati sa nekim tvojih godina.

      Koje su to još dvije kompanije koje lete za Kinu? Ako misliš na Chinu Airlines i EVU koje lete na Taipei (Taiwan) onda u tu raspravu ne bi ulazili. Bio sam prije tri godine na Taiwanu i vjeruj mi ovdje nije mjesto da raspravljamo o političkim pitanjima "prave" Kine i neovisnosti Taiwana (oni same sebe nazivaju Republika Kina, a ne Taiwan). Takvoj raspravi ovdje nije mjesto, a tvoj agrument još jedno pokazuje zelenost tvojih godina.

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    6. Gospodine Purger-u nigde nisam uvredio ili bilo sta lose napiso o vasoj analizi samo sam naveo da je bolje da ste dopisali te dve kompanije da lete ta TPE nego sto ste toliko puno pisali o Gospodinu Vucicu .
      I naravno nigde nisam naveo granice te zemlje niti imam zelju raspravljati o tome niti je tome mesto ovde. Samo sam zaboravio dopisati TPE , nego toliko spominjati Politicare u kontekstu tih buducih linija.
      INN-NS

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    7. i da dodam bolje da ste i dodali jos da ZAG ima letove za ICN nego sto ste vi mesali politiku u tekst a ne ja posto niti mi je to zelja bila niti namera.
      INN-NS

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  31. I do wonder what their financial performance was in 2015.

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  32. OT

    Great news for INI. In September almost 15.000 passengers.

    So far this year they welcomed 65.216 passengers.

    They expect to handle some 130.000 by the end of the year. Some Ryanair's flights to Berlin were sold out in September.

    INI is on a roll!

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  33. Sad to see them go. Hope they try again but I doubt it. :(

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    1. Hopefully in 2017 - but chances are slim

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  34. Sorry for little OT:

    My mum and i were on this flights:
    16.09. and 23.09.
    JU395 CRJ9 HAM-BEG

    30.09.
    JU394 CRJ9 BEG-HAM

    04.10.
    JU390 A319 BEG-HAM

    We do not count every passenger. But the planes were good filled, we believe a round about LF 85%.

    I think, not so bad.

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    1. Good to hear.

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    2. Last night YU-APD ATH-BEG full load, almost all transits, majority to the US.

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  35. I hope they will be able to sort out the bureaucracy and start flying again before next summer. It is a great service.

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  36. ECA has such a huge potential for Croatia. How can the government be so stupid?

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  37. OT: OU will not lease JP CRJ900. The deal was faild on monday.

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  38. I think Hrvatska needs more solid airlines such as the ones in Greece to operate between its islands. Greece is really developed in this or maybe another airline like Binter in the Canary Islands.
    Or trying to attract FR to operate but a 738 is a big machine.

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  39. OT: Why doesn't Pobeda Airlines serve any ex YU city?? BEG-MOW is a VERY VERY busy route or flights to SKP or ZAG? INI is also an option but still smaller market.

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  40. What will happen with the seaports? Will they dissmantle them or leave them?

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  41. OT: What's happening with YU-ARA? Emergency return to JFK?

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    1. What you on? It's arriving ahead of time @ BEG in the AM... half way across the Atlantic now...

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    2. What's with YU-APJ btw, it's been sitting in AUH for days.

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    3. Anybody knows?

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    4. Morning flight JU801 AUH-BEG was cancelled on Sunday, OCT2nd. YU-APJ has been staying at AUH ever since.

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    5. My bad, flightradar24 was jammed.

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  42. OT: YU-API heading to Ulan Bator, Mongolia.

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    1. https://www.flightradar24.com/data/aircraft/yu-api

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    2. Preparing for BEG-PEK flight?

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    3. HaHa, that was a good one! :D

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    4. thought his was a joke . No - JU3002, YU-API a319 is nearing Mongolian airspace.
      Beg-Zürich-Minsk -into Mongolia , probably a charter ...

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    5. Actual BEG-PEK routing would be very close to what is YU-API flying right now.

      Delete

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